Qualitative research is a research method that focuses on a customer’s opinions and feelings. “Qualitative research studies can provide you with details about human behavior, emotion, and personality characteristics that quantitative studies cannot match” (Madrigal, 2012). To obtain more information about a customer’s life and behaviors, “researchers can use qualitative data about user behaviors, needs, desires, routines, use cases, and a variety of other information” (Madrigal, 2012). The data typically derived from this research describes the material in text form such as notes or questions and answers. To accomplish this, researchers can conduct focus groups as a way to explore the user’s behaviors and lifestyle. Conducting qualitative research requires flexibility. “A researcher must observe and document behaviors, opinions, patterns, needs, pain points, and other types of information without yet fully understanding what data will be meaningful” (Madrigal, 2012).
Quantitative analysis tests for theories, but it can also come up with hypotheses for research areas. While qualitative research can test assumptions, it is primarily used for coming up with theories. Both of these roles are integral to analyzing data and share similarities.
Qualitative and quantitative research in business is action-oriented, meaning that the research should lead to new business policies, procedures or other actions designed to boost productivity, reduce costs or increase profits (Hall, n.d.). Qualitative data can include quantifications such as ‘more’ or ‘less’ designations whereas quantitative data such as a survey can provide qualitative data from open-ended questions.
Both research methods also involve a researcher. The researcher may be heavily involved in a qualitative method such as a focus group or minimally involved via analyzing data from an online survey. In order to tell a complete story of market demographics a good researcher will use numerical data and individual notes or opinions.